Opening Reception for Liz Magic Laser: Convulsive States

Join Pioneer Works in a public opening celebration of Liz Magic Laser: Convulsive States.

Convulsive States, by video and performance artist Liz Magic Laser, explores the shaking body as both a symptom and a cure for psychic distress. The newly commissioned presentation traces the lineage of psychosomatic disorders, from historical concepts of hysteria to contemporary diagnoses of nonepileptic seizures and spirit possession. Developed over nine years of intense conversation and friendship with the poet Ariana Reines, the exhibition comprises interactive videos offering therapeutic movement exercises, and a hallucinatory investigative report that feverishly pursues the cure for hysteria as it uncovers mysteries at Paris’s Salpêtrière Hospital—a site widely regarded as the birthplace of modern neurology and psychology.

Liz Magic Laser: Convulsive States is made possible by generous funding from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. It is also supported in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in Partnership with the City Council, as well as the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Convulsive States features cinematography by Laura Geisswiller; video editing by Isaac Goes and Michelle Yoon; sound design by Jared Arnold; musical recordings by GOBBY; voice narration by Helen Laser; interviews with the staff of the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, including neurologist Dr. Martin Catala, psychiatrist Dr. David Cohen, Father Frederic Louzeau, neurologist Dr. Vincent Navarro, dance therapist Svetlana Panova, neurologist Dr. Emmanuel Flamand Roze, and dance therapist France Schott-Billmann; and additional interviews with artist and tai chi instructor Fabrice Brunet, journalist Hélène Combis, librarian and archivist Remi Gaillard, and journalist Virginie Girod. The artist offers special thanks to historian Asti Hustvedt for sharing research, the memory of Dr. Catherine Bouchara, who staged the seminal exhibition Charcot, une vie avec l'image at Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital, the School of Visual Arts MFA Photography, Video and Related Media Department for equipment support, and Zhu Miansheng of Ars Asiatica and Emmanuel Roussille for supporting the participation of artist Fabrice Brunet.

Exorcise 1 through 8 features performances by multidimensional medicine woman and physical therapist Eia Buenconsejo, birth doula Bonu deCaires, somatic acting technique professor Erica Fae, personal trainer and wellness coach Erik Potempa, dancer and massage therapist Cori Kresge, choreographer and Authentic Movement practitioner Wendy Osserman, GYROTONIC® Master Trainer Naoko Moriyama Robbins, and Kundalini yogi and competitive krumper Reuel Crunk Rogers; cinematography by Michelle Yoon; additional camerawork by Isaac Goes, Liz Magic Laser, and Grace Poppe; sound design by Jared Arnold; musical recordings by GOBBY; video editing by Isaac Goes and Michelle Yoon; choreographic consulting by Cori Kresge; and costume design and casting consulting by Felicia Garcia-Rivera. 

About the Artist

Liz Magic Laser is a multimedia video and performance based artist from New York City. Her work intervenes in semi-public spaces such as bank vestibules, movie theaters and newsrooms, involving collaborations with actors, surgeons, political strategists and motorcycle gang members. Her recent work explores the efficacy of new age techniques and psychological methods active in both corporate culture and political movements. Laser’s work has been shown at venues such as The Smithsonian American Art Museum (2023); ICA Boston (2023); Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen (2022); Guggenheim Museum, New York (2021); MUDAM The Contemporary Art Museum of Luxembourg (2021); Kunsthalle Baden-Baden (2019); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2018); Metro Pictures, New York (2018); CAC Brétigny, France (2017); Malmö Konsthall, Sweden (2017); the Swiss Institute (2016); the Whitney Museum of American Art (2015); MoMA PS1, New York (2010); Various Small Fires, Los Angeles (2015); Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2013) the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster, Germany (2013); Lisson Gallery, London (2013); the Performa 11 Biennial, New York (2011). Laser is the recipient of grants from Alfried Krupp von Bohlen und Halbach Foundation, the Southern Exposure Off-Site Graue Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and the Franklin Furnace Fund for Performance Art. Sternberg Press published her monograph, Public Relations / Öffentlichkeitsarbeit, in conjunction with a solo exhibition at the Westfälischer Kunstverein, Germany (2014). Her work has been critically acclaimed in publications such as Text zur Kunst, Artforum, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Frieze, and Art in America.